Sunday, May 21, 2006

Schools Support Students *And* Deployed Parents

So many parents have been deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan in the years since September 11, 2001. Certainly any parent reading this can imagine how difficult it would be to be away from your family for an extended period of time, would marvel at how adept our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are at dealing with having to miss out on so much of their children's growing up.

It's hard on the children, too. Of course some of them may worry about their parent's physical safety, but there's a bigger issue than that--just the total absence of a parent.

Fatima, who will graduate from Northwest High in Clarksville on Saturday, said her dad has missed her 16th birthday, her 18th birthday and her senior prom. "I think he's been to one of my softball games and I've been playing for three years," she said.

But she said the distance and separation are easier to handle because so many students in her school share the same problem.

"None of us are out of place because your dad's not here," Fatima said. "We all support each other."

Fatima attends school near Fort Campbell, KY, and her father, like so many others from Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne (Air Assault), is deployed to the desert. Think about the added difficulties attendant to teaching at a school in which so many children are dealing with what Fatima is.

There's a company in Florida, though, who's going to make dad's (and, in some cases, mom's) absence a little less painful for this year's seniors. Using equipment designed for sports teams, XOS Technologies will be putting on the internet streaming video of graduation ceremonies--so parents like Fatima's can watch their children walk across the stage. And XOS will be doing it at no charge.

"It gives me a wonderful fulfillment, knowing that although I'm here in Iraq, I will still have the 'almost there' experience of watching my daughter walk across the stage," (Fatima's father Michael) McElveen said in an e-mail.

This doesn't happen much, but at this moment, words fail me--in a good way.


Anonymous said...

This is an uplifting post, Darren, but I had never read your blog until today, so I'm actually commenting about your profile. You call yourself conservative, and after reading some of your posts, I believe you. But you list as one of your favorite books "Lies My Teacher Told Me." That seems a little like a Catholic priest listing "The DaVinci Code" as one of his favorites. Is there an explanation for that?

Darren said...

I seek truth, not ideology. And if the socialist who wrote that book has some truth in it--and he does in much of it--it's that value I seek. The message isn't devalued because of the messenger in this case.

As I often say, even Hitler did some things right--Volkswagens and walking trails around the lakes and rivers.

Darren said...

Oh, and thank you for visiting. Y'all come back again now, y'hear? :-)

Anonymous said...

Having grown up a military brat, I understand this issue all too well. By the time I was 11, my father had been absent about 5 years of my life, in such diverse places as VietNam, the mediterranean, and the Western Pacific.

Ryan said...

At my school (AFB, 99% military dependent) we video our music programs and send DVDs free of charge to anyone who is deployed.

Next year I want to try out podcasting; I think it'd be slick to record the kids reading and put it on the class webpage for the overseas parents to listen to.